Each week we uncover the most interesting and informative articles from around the world, here are 10 of the coolest stories in science this week.
Understanding our home
The Earth's mantle acts like a giant churn, circulating cool oceanic crust downward toward the core, where it heats up into a goopy solid and then rises again — a process that powers everything from plate tectonics to volcanism.
But there are some hitches in this system, and new research reveals why: A slippery layer about 416 miles (670 kilometers) deep stops chunks of crust in their tracks, creating "stagnant slabs" in the middle of the mantle, the layer between the Earth's crust and its core. [Read more about the culprit.]
A cosmic trick?
The universe might be tricking us with its optical illusions. [Read more about the mirage.]
A small start
About 85 million years ago, when a vast sea covered Kansas, a wee, little sea monster died almost immediately after it was born. [Read more about the creature.]
Surviving an accident
NASA and Roscosmous attempted to send two new crew members to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft early this morning (Oct. 11). The attempt went very wrong. [Read more about the failure.]
Setting terrifying records
Hurricane Michael made an "unprecedented" landfall on the northern Gulf coast of Florida Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 10). Just as it came ashore, meteorologists with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) released data showing that the rapidly strengthening storm made landfall as the third-strongest hurricane in continental U.S. history. It edged out Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf coast in 2005. [Read more about the storm.]
Tricking the brain
Would you like to travel back in time, even if only for a moment?
This phenomenon is known as postdiction. Unlike prediction, when you try to forecast the future, postdiction occurs when a future stimulus influences how you see the past. [Read more about the illusion.]
Finding the truth
NEW YORK — During the 1950s and 1960s, were extraterrestrials visiting the United States? At the time, a spate of panicky sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) thought to be "alien" in origin were reported across the country, prompting the U.S. Air Force to create a top-secret program dedicated to the investigation of unexplained phenomenon related to UFOs. [Read more about the history.]
Thanks to an especially slobbery "Looney Tune," the island of Tasmania is best-known for its eponymous devils. But the nearby Tasman Sea is no less rich in oddball biodiversity. Take, for example, the newest discovery reported by the Australian research vessel the Investigator. A team of seafaring scientists has uncovered an ancient highway of massive underwater volcanoes — and those submerged mountains (or "seamounts") are apparently brimming with whales, according to a news release from Australia's national science agency. [Read more about the passage.]
The remains of a tomb complex belonging to the "sole friend" of an Egyptian pharaoh have been discovered near a pyramid at Abusir in Egypt. [Read more about the tomb.]